Our Experience with Treatment Foster Care on Kiddo’s 6 Month Anniversary

We are so excited to share about our experience with treatment foster care! Not familiar with our story? Here’s our original announcement, our FAQs, our Foster care Awareness post, and popular podcast on it too. Definitely good background and more info if our foster care experience interests you!

this week, we went into DC and visited kiddo’s requested Smithsonian museum

TODAY is our 6 month anniversary with kiddo! Wow, y’all. That feels like both a super long amount of time and also not nearly any at all at the same time. Admittedly, we started our experience with treatment foster care on rocky waters. It’s been almost 2 years since we decided we wanted to be a foster care resource family. It was a year of training and home study after that. [read our FAQs about the process here].

mother’s day outside the movie theater

If we can do this, we can do anything

We jumped in perhaps at the worst time for us personally, amid changing family dynamics and a global pandemic – with all the chaos and anxiety it brought, but we just knew in our hearts we had to. Admittedly, virtual school with 4 kids and running an at-home business was hard. Then Matt, who’d been a stay-at-home parent for over a decade chose a part-time job that became double-full-time as an essential worker. It. Was. Hard. Our marriage was never more tested.

I tell you this, if we can do this, we can do anything! And if it is on your heart, if we can do it – I believe anyone can. Our experience with treatment foster care led us to believe that it is essential to leverage the supports that the system provides, detailed more in ep 456 of The Whole View. Ultimately, we are so, so grateful we said yes because it meant that our hearts and home were open for kiddo. I cannot imagine our lives without them!

Foster Children Are Not Lucky

People sometimes say things like kids in care are “lucky” to have a foster placement, but I’d argue that even the best placement is a nightmare. Even if it’s what’s best, no parent wants to separate from their kids, and no kid wants to lose their family – or feel like they are by being physically removed from them. That loss is a trauma I cannot possibly fathom – one that Disney uses with every movie to elicit fear and sadness for children. So while it was absolutely not lucky, it was the best outcome from a terrible situation.

our first vacay together and our whaling adventure, which was quite a disaster: no whales, all wake!

We’ve Grown

One of the things I’d really hoped for with fostering was for our family to learn and grow from the kids who joined our family, for however long they were here – as much as kiddos might learn and grow from us. I have heard so much worst-case-scenario fear mongering, I’ve been asked about attachment like it’s a bad thing, worst of all – people wonder how it will “affect” the other children.

Here’s your answer: I have worked with a LOT of professionals and I’ve met (virtually and in person) hundreds of foster parents through support groups and online forums. Not a single one regrets their decision to help these children.

Yes, some days can be really tough – imagine being in their shoes! But that’s not a bad thing – resiliency is an incredible skill.

Empathy is needed in this world. I love that everyone is learning about how to understand different circumstances and empathize with those with lives different from ours.

you best believing I’m a proud PFLAG mama!

We’re Better Parents

In our experience with treatment foster care, I prioritized learning to be a better caretaker to each of these kiddos. I didn’t just expect them to completely adapt to our home. Just as we would with any child in our home, we learn about their needs, their lives, and we adapt too.

With kiddo especially, I’ve been given the gift of learning how to be a better ally. I’ve learned from and with them about the LGBTQ community. It opened my mind and heart to what terms like non-binary and transgender mean and why being a true ally matters more than ever these days. It’s allowed me to educate not just myself, but many of you, too. I am so grateful for having had this opportunity to learn and advocate!

Warp Speed

Of course, each child who enters our home has a lifetime of experiences, culture, memories (good and bad) that we know nothing about. To bring in a teen is like learning, teaching, and loving all at warp speed. With treatment foster care, you’re bringing in a teen with a history of trauma – the depths of which you, and perhaps them, don’t fully understand.

With a young child, you learn what their cries mean, what their little facial expressions or idiosyncrasies are. You may learn phrases like “all good” actually mean “I need help.” But you don’t know that with an older child who comes in – so you’re learning all that, all while they’re trying to learn those things about you, about your home, your culture, learning how to react to your terrible sense of humor and punny dad jokes that aren’t really funny.

recent Father’s Day vacation to Cedar Point, kiddos first roller coasters

Foster Care Changed Us

This can be incredibly rewarding and awesome, but also frustrating and hard at times. It’s the ability to work through those moments that has brought us closer together as a family. It’s been some of the best and also most challenging times for us, but we can all say it changed us for the better. I’ve loved watching the boys take kiddo under their wings. They embraced them in nurturing ways but as they become closer they’re starting to bicker as siblings do, which is unexpectedly a positive for us.

If anyone tells you being a foster parent is easy, they’re lying. If we said 2020 wasn’t hard on our marriage, we’d be lying. But we are here, celebrating. We survived the hardest part of our lives and know how much stronger it makes us now. Honestly I don’t know if we would have done as well without kiddo. They brought a spark and energy to the home at a time we truly needed it. If anyone is lucky, it is certainly us!

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